I don’t play Holi. It’s fun, it brings people together, it’s an occasion to eat great food and drink bhaang, but I still don’t celebrate it. That’s because the dark side of the festival overshadows the bright side.

As a kid, I was extremely scared of people with coloured faces and a wild attitude. It used to give me the jitters whenever someone would lean in with colours. I would scream, and beg the person to not put me through hell. My mother would intervene and save me, but the fact remained – I would spend the day being paranoid rather than having fun. People would ask me to loosen up and enjoy the festivities, but it never really floated my boat. 

Years later, as an adult, the paranoia has gone. However, the hatred still remains. I would rather give one of my old t-shirts to an orphanage, than ruin it for life playing a dirty game. Thankfully, the circle that I come from, doesn’t see people using animal excreta, egg yolks and sewage water. Even so, the balloons and the forceful application of colours is too disgusting. 

I have played Holi just once in my life, which was during my college days. I immediately regretted it, because I couldn’t stop the colours from entering my eyes and my mouth. Not only did I suffer from excruciating pain, my friends went ahead and laughed at the expense of my misery. This ‘bura na mano holi hai‘ attitude that has been imbibed into people is something that gets my goat. 

Bollywood is to be blamed. For example, there’s a Rajesh Khanna song (embedded below) that sees the heroine enjoying herself while clearly inebriated men play Holi with her. Since cinema is constructed reality, (and a man only hears what he wants to hear) women in real life may not enjoy such rowdy behaviour. I have heard one of my aunts complaining about how this person touched her inappropriately, but she didn’t hold any grudges against him because well, she too subscribes to the ‘bura na mano holi hai.’ This is the attitude that we’re trying to fight, and it’ll be nice if we can have some PSAs (like they do for Jaago Graahak Jaago) to educate people just before Holi.